Australia, Transport News

Industry responds to heavy vehicle charge proposals

The industry only has until the end of Monday to get their submissions in to avoid the road user charge from increasing substantially for heavy vehicle operators

In late December last year, Australia’s transport ministers called on the National Transport Commission (NTC) to review the road user charge (RUC) for heavy vehicles.

Ministers agreed to move to a three-year pricing period following strong advocacy from the Australian Transport Association (ATA), with the program including increases between six and 10 per cent for each of the years.

The two options, published in NTC’s report last year, include:

–       Increasing the roads component of heavy vehicle registration charges and the RUC by six per cent per year for three years

–       Increasing the RUC by 10 per cent per year for three years

There are currently no submissions against this report, which is set to close the chance to provide submissions on Monday February 20.

With the NTC report set to pass through, the ATA is one of many associations who have responded, calling on the industry to submit against the proposals before it’s too late and the RUC rises.

“The ATA argues that ministers shouldn’t accept either option and they should instead freeze heavy vehicle charges in 2023-24 and increase them by 2.75 per cent in each of 2024-25 and 2025-26,” ATA chief of staff Bill McKinley told ATN.

“We recommend the introduction of a lower remote area road user charge set at half the national road user charge rate. We argue that the new forward looking cost base should take effect from 2026-27.

“The decision about charges for 2023-24 to 2025-26 should be the last decision made under the PAYGO model.”

McKinley and the ATA aren’t the only ones against this report and its recommendations, with the Queensland Transport Association (QTA) also voicing its concern for it.

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The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says it also wants the NTC to adopt the ATA’s recommendations.

“NatRoad agrees with the ATA’s call for a lower remote area road user charge set at half the national road user charge rate,” NatRoad CEO Warren Clark told ATN. 

“Continuing high fuel costs is just one of the burdens that trucking businesses are expected to absorb alongside poorly communicated state border closures, purchasing COVID-19 related PPE, higher AdBlue costs and the impact of the previous fuel tax cut.

“NatRoad agrees with the ATA that the existing heavy vehicle cost base is meaningless as it uses state governments’ budget decisions with no direct link to industry needs or increasing productivity. It also leads to new projects being prioritised over road maintenance spending.”

QTA CEO Gary Mahon says with fuel prices still excessive, any change that reduces the fuel tax credit (FTC) will be passed onto the client and subsequently the cost of living.

“In difficult economic times, it’s an extraordinary impost on the road freight industry to be considering a substantial decrease to the FTC,” Mahon told ATN.

“It must be understood that whatever increase amount is applied to the RUC is in practical effect a decrease to the FTC.

“There is at best a very limited explanation of where the investments for the heavy vehicle cost base for roads are made around the states. Road investment is generally for the benefit of all road users.”

Industry members can provide submissions on the NTC’s road user charge proposals on this link before the end of Monday February 20.

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